perfectionism, perfect, angela howell, finding the gift, personal developmentHello friends, I hope you are Finding the Gift today! I haven’t blogged in a long time. Some of you know I lost my baby brother, Jubal, to suicide on August 7, a terrible blow to my family and his huge circle of friends and music fans. I have felt incredible pressure to write the “perfect” blog post in response to this devastating loss. Self-imposed pressure (plus a lot of grief) has kept me from sharing anything at all.

While I’m not ready to blog about this crushing event and how it has impacted my family and life, I have written some thoughts about perfectionism which I would love to share. This foe has plagued me all my life and on this particular day, I won the battle! If you struggle with trying to be perfect or you respond by not doing anything at all, this blog is for you.

Never Good Enough

Perfectionism is the devil of the worst kind. It kills my joy. It steals my peace. It destroys my ability to enjoy all the good things that are happening in my life.

Too often, I focus all day long on a feeling of not being enough, not doing enough. Consciously and subconsciously, I pummel myself with this message day in and day out.

But I’m a transformation coach and I know better than this!

I can tell other people all day long how detrimental this practice is and how they must turn their minds and thoughts to more kind and loving self-talk. It’s easy to dole out this kind of medicine, but it’s much harder to take it myself.

On my walk today, I had this epiphany once again: I must be my own best friend! And talk to myself as I would speak to any other close friend in need of support, acceptance and encouragement. This concept is a critical point in my free eBook, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift. If you haven’t downloaded that yet, please look for the box to sign up for my updates and I’ll send it to you immediately.

Recently, to help contend with the immense grief and depression I’ve been feeling, I committed to send my own coach a daily gratitude list naming at least three things I was grateful for. My list tended to consist of gestures or events that happened to me or for me, but not by me. I find it easy to praise others but I usually don’t think about the need to build myself up. Today, I’ve decided to amend my assignment. I will focus on what went right and also specifically, on anything I did (or didn’t do) that deserves a pat on the back.

What Went Well

For instance, yesterday

  • I managed to put a flea collar on a skittish, community cat.
  • I got dressed—yes, some days that’s reason to celebrate in this season of grief.
  • I went to the store and returned two items to finally get them out of my car.
  • I made it to the post office to mail four different packages so those to-do’s aren’t weighing me down anymore.

However, I ended the day with the familiar focus on all that I did not accomplish, with another dose of “I should be able to get back to life as usual by now.” In hindsight, especially compared to many other recent days where cement shoes kept me from moving at all, yesterday sounds like a pretty victorious day! Nothing has changed, except I put on a new pair of glasses. Looking at what went well feels a lot better than dwelling on the alternative.

Taking Action, Resting and Receiving Unexpected Gifts

Going forward, I will focus on the grace, inspiration and strength I am given to spend my time in ways that produce joy, peace, love and fulfillment. I will recognize the ability to mark even just a few things off my list. And I will also celebrate the moments I spend resting, recuperating, and playing with the many free-roaming cats hanging out in my new backyard. Yes, we moved on September 4th. We were in the process of just starting to pack when Jubal passed away. After packing up his life in St. Thomas, I boxed up mine as soon as I got back.

We were greeted at the new house on Day One by a sweet, pregnant kitty we now call Sandi. Our own precious, 18 year old Fancy cat passed away the day after I returned from St. Thomas. When Sandi appeared with an abundantly loving demeanor like Fancy, we agreed she was heaven-sent. We fed Sandi and she spread the word to the rest of her feline family at the property we back up to. Besides food and care, these new furry friends need love. My service to them is as important as all the other “looking good” to-do’s on my list—those items which are more socially acceptable ways to be productive like work, grocery shopping and laundry. Today, why not expand our lists to also include activities that feed our souls and contribute to our well-being and others’ (furry or otherwise)?

A day well spent is how it feels on the inside, more so than how it looks on the outside.

Let’s put more focus on how we feel at the end of the day rather than the tangible fruit created for everyone else to see. Today let’s celebrate good self-talk and take special notice of all our personal victories, big and small!

(A slight disclaimer: I spent more time than I would have liked editing and re-working this post. However, I choose to celebrate progress not perfection and for today, blogging at all is a huge victory. We didn’t become perfectionists overnight and we won’t undo that tendency overnight either.)

Are We Kindred Spirits?

If anything I write helps you, challenges you, inspires you, or if you have encouragement to share on the topic, I want to know! Please leave a comment on my social media page or on the blog post itself and let’s talk about it! We’re in this together.

Cheers to your gifts and the many gifts you bring to others!